Moon Water, Evidence, and Theory

July 10, 2008 at 12:10 pm 1 comment

Water was discovered on the moon! At least it was in tiny, trapped particles in the moon rocks that the Apollo mission brought back decades ago. Technology has apparently advanced sufficiently so that geologists are now able to search for water particles in rock on the scale of five parts per million. Don’t get too excited, now, but up to 46 parts per million were found. That’s around 1500 times more than the legal amount of mercury allowed in sewage, so… it’s still not very much.

It’s enough, however, to require the need for adjustment in the theory of how the moon came to exist and orbit earth. Before this discovery, it was thought that the heat of the moon’s initial collision with earth vaporized every bit of water on the rock. Now that even a little water has been discovered, the heat of the two planets at the time of collision is called into question.

But why not pose an alternate hypothesis? It’s been put forward that whatever water discovered on the moon might be due to smaller impacts from comets or meteors. This seems unlikely, however, as the water particles were found trapped within rock formed by a volcanic explosion. If the water was brought up from deep within or under the moon’s crust, then the idea that it was brought by an impact seems more extraordinary than that of a slight revision of the lunar origin theory.

It’s an interesting story, but beyond that a good example of new evidence prompting theory revision. It’s a simple example that covers fairly well (especially with the mention of an alternate hypothesis) the basics of theory adjustment. New evidence surfaces, in this case because of technological improvement. This new evidence calls into question parts of a previously accepted theory. The response of the scientific (in this case, geologic) community is to consider how to adjust the theory, or whether they can fit the new evidence into the previous theory by proposing an alternate hypothesis. Props to National Geographic for framing this example of good science well—and know that I’ll be looking to check out the study in more detail in today’s edition of Nature.

P.S. This might be a stick in the eye for some lunar hoax people, too. Is the government just making up new information now, perpetuating the hoax 40 years down the road? Or perhaps they were just holding out on the technological development of the 1960s, where they were able to create authentic bits of trapped water in rock on the order of parts per million we were hitherto unable to detect? I wonder what they conspiracy nuts are saying…

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Entry filed under: Media, SSK. Tags: .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. les  |  July 14, 2008 at 10:45 am

    well, duh the geologists are in on it. You think that they got d level geologists to work on this thing? No, these are the people at the top level of government funding, with tons of connections and tangled in the whole web of ongoing conspiracy.

    Reply

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Everything on this blog should be taken as a draft, the spilling over of mental activity flung far and wide. The author is a graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA who enjoys many things but devotes most of this space to matters academic.
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